Thursday, September 15, 2011

Your Grandfather will do it

There is a well known wall decor hanging which reads:   "Rule Number 1 : The Boss is always right.     Rule Number 2: When the Boss is wrong - Refer to Rule number 1".  But anybody who works and reports to a boss knows that the boss is many times wrong. Nobody likes to point out that to the boss. Either because of lack of courage or diplomacy. Such being the case, what happens when you tell the boss he is wrong when he may actually be right? Not a pleasant situation to be in, is n't it?  Yet some times one gets into such a tiff with the boss. One may even start an argument with the boss as well. And challenge him too. There is no worse position than to challenge the boss and being caught in a bind.

My father was referring to one such situation he faced in his lifetime and how he used his ingenuity to wriggle out of it.

My revered father Pattabhi Ramaiah was a Second World War Hero and joined the Indian Army in 1940, when he was 21 years old. He served in the Army for five years and sought discharge after the war was over. He was popular with the British officers (most of the officers were British at that time) as he was one of the Indians in the Army who could speak and write well in English. He went up to Rangoon in combat during the war and had  five war medals, two silver and three Bronze, in his collection and proudly used to show me while I was in School.

After getting discharged from the Army he joined Mysore State Government as a Teacher. He was working in Kanakapura area, near Bangalore. In those days an "Inspector of Schools" was the highest officer for all schools in the Taluk. For a revenue sub-division comprising three or four taluks, an Assistant Educational Officer (AEO) used to be the head. The District Educational Officer (DEO) was the highest officer for the district. Deputy Director of Public Instructions (DDPI), Joint Director of Public Instructions (JD) and Director of Public Instructions (Director) were the highest officers in the state. For Kanakapura Taluk, there was an Inspector and above him was an AEO in Ramanagaram. DEO and higher officers used to sit in New Public Offices Building in KR Circle, Bangalore. This Victorian period building can be seen even today, on the right of RBI Building on Nrupathunga Road.

The Inspector's office in Kanakapura was provided with only two assistants to cope up with all the work relating to the teachers of the taluk. Though Pattabhi Ramaiah was a teacher, he was assisting the Inspector's office in preparing bills and replying to correspondence when requested by the Inspectors. This was an informal arrangement and was going on with mutual consent. A new Inspector who took charge of the Taluk wanted to formalise this using his authority. Pattabhi Ramaiah did not like this and resisted it. Annoyed with this, the Inspector transferred him to a village eight miles away. There was no transport facility to this village and he was forced to go on bicycle every day to the school.

He went to the Inspector and requested him for a transfer back to the original place. The Inspector spoke to him harshly each time and told him that it was  his prerogative and he would not change the order, come what may. When this was repeated on the fourth occasion, Pattabhi Ramaiah lost his cool and told the Inspector " If you are not changing the order, your Grandfather will do it ".

The words came out of the mouth and did the damage. The inspector also shouted and questioned what he meant by invoking Grandfather's name. Pattabhi Rramaiah realised the folly, but did not want to yield ground. He justified by saying that for the Inspector his higher officer AEO was a father figure and the DEO in Bangalore was like a Grandfather. Since other people had entered the Inspector's cabin by that time, the matter ended there. Pattabhi Ramaiah knew that he had made a mistake and he had to somehow get out of it. He was waiting for an oppurtunity.

Sri H V Sriranga Raju was a highly respected officer in the Education department. He was the DDPI at that time and later on rose to the highest position of Director in Education Department. He had a tour of the district and came to Kanakapura on a Saturday to inspect the Inspector's office. He also wanted to address all the teachers of the taluk, for which advance intimation was sent to the teachers. On the day of the meeting all the teachers had assembled in the Government Middle School premises and were waiting for the senior officers to arrive at the venue. Sri Sriranga Raju walked into the school compound with the DEO, AEO and the Inspector. He was greeted by the teachers and he duly acknowledged the greetings. When he came to the group in which Pattabhi Ramaiah was sanding, he stopped for a minute and said "How are you Mr. Ramaiah?". He remembered the name because in a previous meeting Pattabhi Ramaiah had vociferously advocated reforms in the Education system to bring more children into schools as many families were not admitting their sons and daughters to schools in those days. Pattabhi Ramaiah immediately said " I am fine, Thank you Sir. I need two minutes of your time after the meeting to discuss an issue."  Sri Srirangaraju agreed and went inside the building followed by the senior officers and the teachers for the meeting.

In the middle of the meeting the peon came and told Pattabhi Ramaiah that the Inspector wanted see him outside the meeting hall. When he met the Inspector there, the Inspector asked him "What is the issue you want to discuss with Sahib?". Pattabhi Ramaiah told him that it will be told to the Sahib only. Inspector was in a quandary. He immediately told Pattabhi Ramaiah not to raise the issue of transfer with Sahib and he would do the needful on Monday morning itself.

Both went back to the meeting.  After the meeting, when the senior officers were leaving the hall Pattabhi Ramaiah went to the Sahib and told him "Sir, it is very late today. Next week I am coming to Bangalore on leave. I request permission to meet you in your chambers and present the issue." Sahib was also tired and immediately agreed to it. Ramaiah had kept another arrow ready in his quiver; of going to Bangalore if his work was not done on Monday.

Monday morning the transfer order was modified and Ramaiah was posted to another school in the town itself. He never went to Bangalore, but had a very comfortable tenure during the remaining part of the Inspector's regime.  

..................P Keshava Murthy



  1. This is something amazing! I enjoyed reading it again and again!

  2. I do not know, why we were not aware that your father had served in Indian Army, I wish we knew it before, they were so simple never use to show off, because of these mails we understand better, of course, you narrate beautifully.
    Thank you, it was very interesting to read.

  3. Mava nice to read something about your father!